Prior to the start of the NFL preseason, the NFL and it’s referees made it well known to every team across the nation that they would be cracking down on defensive holding and illegal contact this upcoming season.
Almost immediately it was evident that more flags were being called at the very start of the preseason for both offenses, but after the conclusion of the NFL preseason yesterday, the full numbers were revealed.
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) August 29, 2014
Yes, you read that correctly. The NFL preseason, which only consists of four games per team as well as the Hall of Fame game, had nearly the same amount of flags for defensive holding or illegal contact as the entirety of the 2013 regular season.
Now before we start lambasting the new emphasis for slowing down the game and making it harder for cornerbacks to cover receivers, let’s keep in mind that the preseason is practice for the referees as well.
Although there was a ton of flags called on defensive backs this preseason, it will motivate those players to be even more careful during the regular season in order to avoid those calls.
Not only will the players be more keenly aware of the emphasis on defensive holding or illegal contact, but so too will coaches who will be drilling their teams in practice to avoid the flags.
Hopefully the new emphasis on these penalties will not slow down the speed of the games during the regular season, but it remains to be seen how the games will be affected.